You are here

Annual Elk Hunt Scheduled to Begin in Grand Teton National Park Oct 10


Grand Teton National Park's elk hunt is scheduled to begin this coming Saturday, Oct. 10. NPS photo.

Hunters -- temporarily deputized as park rangers -- will descend on portions of Grand Teton National Park this coming weekend with hopes of reducing the park's elk population.

This is not a new hunt. Back in 1950, when the park's enabling legislation passed Congress, the hunt was provided for -- when necessary -- to help manage Grand Teton's elk population. Park officials say the current elk population is above the goal of 11,000 animals, and so the hunt will begin on Saturday, October 10.

The elk reduction program utilizes Wyoming-licensed hunters that apply for and receive limited quota permits in hunt areas #75 and #79. Under the guidelines of the hunt, each hunter who lands a permit can take any elk he or she wishes. A map showing specific park locations open to hunters participating in the elk reduction program is available at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming.

As a part of their special use permit—and as an added safety measure—each participant receives a strong, proactive message alerting them to the presence of grizzly bears throughout the authorized hunt zones, the park notes. In addition, hunters are required to carry bear pepper spray as a non-lethal deterrent for use during potential bear encounters. Hunters are also advised not to leave a carcass unattended and to remove their harvested elk as soon as possible.

Each fall, park rangers strictly monitor and patrol the elk reduction areas located within the park to ensure compliance with rules and regulations associated with this wildlife management program.

According to a park release, the recent illegal killing of grizzly bear #615 by a hunter in the Ditch Creek area east of Grand Teton makes a compelling case for hunters to carry bear spray and be alert while in the field. Scientific studies indicate that bear spray is more effective than bullets in defusing a potentially life-threatening, bear-human encounter; bear spray provides more effective protection for the hunter as well as the bear, states the release.

Based on his extensive research, bear biologist Dr. Stephen Herrero has concluded that the chances of a person incurring serious injury from a charging grizzly significantly increases when bullets are fired versus when bear spray is used as a defense, said the park.

According to the park:

Bears and other scavengers throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) have learned to seek out and feed on gut piles and other hunter-related carrion during the fall season. This represents an important, highly nutritious food source to these animals, and it can create circumstances when bears aggressively defend carcasses and gut piles. Hunters and other park visitors should keep in mind that dozens of grizzlies use the park regularly and may be encountered anywhere and anytime. All necessary precautions for recreating in bear country need to be strictly followed, particularly those that apply to hunters.

The Conservation Strategy for Grizzly Bears in the GYE guides the continuing efforts by land and wildlife managers to conserve bear habitat and minimize bear-human conflicts through education and compliance with appropriate regulations, including those related to keeping a safe distance when viewing bears. To ensure a healthy grizzly bear population, every effort is made to educate park visitors, concessioner employees, local residents and hunters about living and recreating responsibly in bear country.

Rangers will continue to monitor park wildlife and educate all users about their personal responsibility for maintaining a safe environment—for their own health, as well as for the welfare of the animals.


I use to hunt late season elk at taylors fork and the elk numbered in the thousands and each year the wolves got thicker until there wasn't any elk left and I quit hunting elk in montana. I took my wife to yellowstone to show her some elk and there were very few. We need to start wolve permits and get some balance in the back into the elk herd. I wish wolves could eat the people that put them there, that would make me happy.

Look, Elk Lover before Europeans arrived in the new world there were thousands of elk and thousands of wolves. Now, obviously humans have reduced the populations of both species, but wolves have been killing elk for thousands of years. Plus, if you love elk so much why aren't you opposed to legal human sport hunting of elk? Another thing is that if you were a real conservationist you would let mother nature do her own thing like she has been for millions of years. I am also opposed to the National Park Service killing off animals. The purpose of the National Parks are to showcase nature's beauty, not destroy it. If there going to allow hunting why not call Grand Teton National Park, Grand Teton Big Game Hunting Park. I will retire now that i've put in my two cents.

Why must it always come down to bashing hunters? The vast majority of hunters are true conservationists. Remember, it was the most active presidential hunter, Teddy Rooselvelt, that set aside many of the lands we all enjoy today. Most hunter-based groups are based upon his ideals and fair chase principals (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited). Just like any other race/group of people, there are good and bad.

A "happy hunt" is one where I see animals. I spent 11 days chasing elk here in Colorado last month, but never did get presented with an ethical shot with my bow. I was solo hunting in a wilderness area, covering ground that most people on this blog wouldn't even think of hiking (think 2,000 vertical feet before sunrise). The highlight of my hunt was a sunset on the Elk Mtns with a blizzard moving in and a streak of sunlight breakling through on a band of sandstone. Sorry if this doesn't fit your view of a hunter. If you have never been on a hunt, or been hunting, then don't speak about what you have no knowledge of.

Make a happy give him an easy access for a soft kill. Remember a happy hunter enjoys a huge gut pile. Ask former Governor Palin! Easy pickings doesn't offer a true wilderness experience, or a decent challenge in sport hunting.

In response to your question re: coming across wolf kills not eaten on the spot, I have. I have monitored wolf kill sites at a number of locations along the upper drainages of the Koyukuk River in north central Alaska. In virtually all cases, wolves returned to the sites to continue feeding. Other scavengers and predators (birds, rodents, wolverine, foxes, bears, etc.) would also feed off wolf kills. Natural predators play an important role in maintaining healthy wildlife habitat and populations. I am not a romantic when it comes to wolves. I have no problem with well managed hunting and trapping, although I am opposed to aerial killing and use of toxins. I find it ironic that some "sport hunters" want to reduce or eliminate natural predators so that it will be easier for them to find and kill prey species. That seems to indicate a greater desire to kill rather than to hunt - the very trait they ascribe to natural predators.


The scientific study of evolutionary responses to human "harvesting" is both much older and much broader. However, most of the best data are from fisheries, where size-dependent harvesting is common and large sample sizes are available.

The particular PNAS paper you wrote about in your previous post bears this out: of the 475 datasets included in their meta-analysis, there were 1 each on a marine snail, tegula, and limpet, 1 study with 24 datasets on ginseng, 1 on snow lotus in China, and 1 study with weight and horn length for male bighorn sheep (showing selective response of decreasing horn length and lower weight for a given age). The rest were all fish.

Ric Charnov's 1981 The theory of sex allocation used data from decades of harvesting of pandalid shrimp in the North Atlantic. Nets catch the larger shrimp and let the smaller ones escape. Those shrimp first mature as males, then switch to female as they get larger. Harvesting the larger females skewed the sex ratio, and over 30 years the shrimp evolved to switch from male to female an average of 1.5 molts earlier.

Some of the logic behind marine protected areas (no take areas) for sustainable harvest of fish has to do with preventing the selective pressure on slower growth and earlier maturity at a smaller size under size & take limits. Other work is estimating the selective pressure against dispersal (low dispersal reduces the chance of moving out of the protected area into the harvested areas).

Based on 5 years experience of living and working in Yellowstone, I would consider cows and calves to be weaker. Considering the limited area available for grazing, *some* sort of predation is necessary to prevent diseased populations and mass die-offs. Why not wolves? Any male elk that is strong enough to not eat all fall while competing with his fellow bulls to build or protect his harem and then survive the winter too is probably tough enough to drive off wolves. Given that, then the wolves remaining elk prey are the cows and calves. If you have a problem with that, then you have a fundamental problem with nature.

About those five elk "laid to waste", how did they die and how did you determine that? How many times did you return over the rest of the winter to verify that the carcasses were not eaten by anything and were, therefore, "wasted"? Given that this presumably was in winter or early spring (you were snowmobiling after all), the carcasses would keep for a long time and be available for various opportunistic carnivores and omnivores such as bears, coyotes, foxes, ravens, bugs and bacteria. Such is the circle of life in nature. Given the effort and risk involved, I personally would doubt that wolves killed all five at the same time and place, even if all five were sick and dieing already. Can you provide evidence otherwise? This is not characteristic of pack hunters of any species I am aware of. It *is* characteristic of greedy individual "hunters" such as the poacher you bagged - Goodonya for that!

Reading your various posts here suggests to me that you mainly dislike the competition for game and view "waste" of game animals as any use the doesn't have humans as the prime beneficiary. If that is the case, you are welcome to your opinion but I would consider it a greedy and selfish one.

"on average weaker and injured animals are more likely to be taken."

Not true, unless you view cows and calves as weaker. They are the primary prey of wolvs in the western US (lower 48). Wolves were a part of the ecosystem when there were 50 million buffalo and what was thought to be 10 million elk. Populations of that size can sustain continued high predation rates. We can't go back and change the make-up that the American west settlers and miners (primary casue of elk reductions) and the documented over hunting by the Amerrican indians changed forever. Wish we could, but don't try and align those activities with todays hunting community.

I do have a dislike for wolves and stated that in an earlier post ("my dislike for wolves is pretty deep these days"). Have you ever come across a group of animals that have been killed and not eaten? I have, with a group of 5 elk just east of Grand Teton National Park while snowmobiling 3 years ago. Not a pretty site to see such beauty laid to waste. For the record, among other things, I also despise poachers (just turned one in on Sept. 4th), and having all youth soccer kids getting a trophy just for playing.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments